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Sunday 21 September 2014

Prince's base 'let guard down' before attack

Ben Farmer Kabul

Published 11/02/2013 | 04:00

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Prince Harry

Troops at Britain's main Afghan base, where Prince Harry was based, lowered their guard and left watchtowers empty before a spectacular Taliban assault that destroyed hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of American aircraft and equipment, a review has found.

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Commanders at Camp Bastion had become preoccupied with halting deadly insider attacks by members of the Afghan forces and believed a frontal assault by the Taliban was unlikely.

As a result, they were unable to prevent 15 Taliban suicide attackers, causing the biggest single loss of American air power since the Vietnam War.

A critical United States Marine Corps review has found troops at the sprawling British base had "let their guard down". The Taliban struck last September while Prince Harry was stationed there.

The attack was the second high-profile security breach at Bastion last year. Six months earlier, an Afghan worker drove a burning car at a reception party awaiting Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary.

Eight jets belonging to the US marines were destroyed or badly damaged and two marines were killed as British and American forces took five hours to kill the attackers.

Marines had thought the attackers, disguised in American uniforms, were friendly forces until they opened fire with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

A Taliban statement said they had attacked in retaliation for an American-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Bastion had been chosen because of Prince Harry's presence, they added. British and coalition investigations into the attack remain classified. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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